Slone’s sidelines: prepare to complain
By Chris Slone
PDT Sports Editor
Oh, the benefits of being fashionably late to the party.
The conglomerate train wreck known as the NCAA isn’t getting much argument about its choice for the National Championship game this year, and for once, there isn’t much of an argument against Florida State or Auburn.
However, next season, the NCAA will unveil its version of a playoff system. The top four teams in the country will square off, with the top seed playing the fourth seed while the middle two seeds lock horns.
Lets play the “if” game for a moment. If the playoff format took place this season, then let the complaining ensue.
Since we don’t know the complete criteria for choosing the top four teams in the country — I doubt the NCAA knows their own criteria — lets just look strictly at the Bowl Championship Series Standings after this past weekends championship contests.
Undefeated Florida State would hypothetically play Michigan State who only has one loss and did win the Big Ten Championship. SEC champion and one-loss Auburn would play a rematch game against Alabama, who did lose a close contest on one of the flukiest of plays against the Tigers.
Let the argument begin.
Baylor finished sixth in the BCS standings. The Bears lost on the road to Oklahoma State who was ranked in the top 10 at the time. However, in addition to the suffering the lone defeat, the score was 49-17, which is an embarrassment for a national-championship contender. Not to mention, Baylor did not even play in their conference championship game, which in my book should automatically disqualify them from contention.
Ohio State, who entered the weekend No. 2 in the country, controlled their own destiny but losing the Big Ten championship game doomed their fate, and sent them plummeting to seventh in the final standings. Like the Bears, the Buckeyes did not win their conference championship. However, Ohio State won 12 games during the course of the year and gave Big Ten Champion Michigan State all they could handle.
Those two teams, along with the Stanford Cardinals who finished fifth in the final standings, would be on the outside looking in at the playoff race. By the way, why are the Cardinals even ranked ahead of Baylor or Ohio State. Stanford did win the Pac 10 championship, which is always impressive but the Cardinals lost two road games against Utah and USC.
Utah is far from a juggernaut and USC finished the season with an iterm coach after former head coach Lane Kiffin was shown the door.
Finishing fourth is the Crimson Tide of Alabama, who like Baylor and OSU, did not win their conference championship. In fact, Alabama did not even earn the right to play in the SEC championship game.
The point of my rambling is simple — the current BCS format is a mess and needed overhauled. But the problem stems deeper than a simple face lift. These problems are going to continue to plague the NCAA until they form clear and coherent guidelines.
Every year, the NCAA seems to make up their own rules as they go along. Remember the 2003 season? The Oklahoma Sooners were pummeled in their conference title game by Kansas State, 35-7, but because of computer rankings, they still played for the National Championship against LSU.
I am in favor of a playoff system. However, before I get too excited, I need to know who will be selecting the top four teams and what guidelines will be used to aid those selections.
Aside from Florida State and Auburn, I can make a case for and against the rest of the teams in the discussion. Unfortunately, since the NCAA seems to function like Congress, I am not hopeful of the proposed changes.
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Chris on Twitter @crslone.
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